Search This Blog

Saturday, November 12, 2022

PM Shri Narendra Modiji confers honorary doctorate on Maestro and Umayalpuram Sivaraman

Ever heard of Nai Talim and its connection to rural Tamil Nadu, though this post is on a person from a village near Thiruvaiyaru. 

In one of our sojourns from Kapisthalam divyadesam to Thiru Mandangudi, the birth place of Thondaradipodi Azhwar, we stopeed at this village on  the Kumbakonam to Thiruvaiyaru route. It is 12 km from Kumbakonam. It is  a plain in the Cauvery delta. It was soothing to see so many birds here and from this village came this genius who had his  arangetram as a 10-year-old boy in 1945, this legend has entranced almost 3 generations – over the last seven decades – with his wizardry in mrudangam. He has performed across the globe, accompanying the greatest musicians of his age, alongside numerous solo performances.  A few years ago, this  enormously gifted genius  completed 75 years of performance, a career marked by a bravura progression from milestone to milestone, sweeping up all available awards in its wake. 

Born in 1935 and  he has played accompanying  the greatest stalwarts — a galaxy of the greatest names in Carnatic music.  May not require any introduction for Carnatic music lovers.


Nai Talim, or Basic Education, is a principle which states that knowledge and work are not separate. Mahatma Gandhi promoted an educational curriculum with the same name based on this pedagogical principle. It can be translated with the phrase 'Basic Education for all'.  It was conceptualized out  of Gandhi's experience with the English educational system and with colonialism in general. In that system, he saw that Indian children would be alienated and 'career-based thinking' would become dominant. In addition, it embodied a series of negative outcomes: the disdain for manual work, the development of a new elite class, and the increasing problems of industrialization and urbanization. The three pillars of Gandhi's pedagogy were its focus on the lifelong character of education, its social character and its form as a holistic process. For Gandhi, education is 'the moral development of the person', a process that is by definition 'lifelong'. 

 Gandhigram Rural Institute (GRI),  was founded by two dedicated disciples and contemporaries of Mahatma Gandhi, Dr.G. Ramachandran and Dr.T.S. Soundaram Ramachandran, had its foundation Mahatma Gandhi’s revolutionary philosophy of Nai Talim, which effectively bridges the cognitive and practical dimensions, and focuses on the holistic development of learners, with an emphasis on skill development through value-based education, rooted in indigenous cultures and traditions. Since its establishment in 1956, GRI has been unstintingly contributing to higher education and has successfully pioneered rural higher education. 

The man spoken of earlier is ‘Umayalpuram Sivaraman’ – the great mridangam exponent.  His percussion career has been a colourful spectrum of accompaniment to a legion of musical maestros in Carnatic music – Sri Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar, Sri Musiri Subramania Iyer, Sri Palladam Sanjeeva Rao, Sri Mysore Chowdiah, Sri Rajamanickam Pillai, Sri Papa Venkataramiah, Sri Dwaram Venkataswami Naidu, Sri Mudikondan Venkatarama Iyer, Sri G. N. Balasubramaniam, Sri Madurai Mani Iyer, Sri Maharajapuram Viswanatha Iyer, Sri Alathur Brothers, Sri Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar, Dr Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, Dr M. Balamuralikrishna, Sri Nedunuri Krishnamurthi, Sri Voleti Venkateswarulu, Sri S. Balachander, Sri T.R. Mahalingam, etc. He has to his credit several jugalbandhi concerts with the top artistes of Hindustani music like Pt. Ravishankar, Sri Hariprasad Chaurasia, Pt. Ram Narain and top tabla artistes like Pt. Kishen Maharaj, Pt. Samta Prasad, Ustad Allah Rakha, Mr. Zakhir Hussain and others. In these concerts, Sivaraman has won great approbation from his North Indian Counterparts and the audience. 

It was a great day. Our Hon’ble Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modiji  attended the 36th Convocation Ceremony of Gandhigram Rural Institute at Dindigul in Tamil Nadu today. More than 2300 students of 2018-19 and 2019-20 Batches received their degrees in the convocation ceremony. This was followed by the Prime Minister awarding gold medals to the winners and honoris causa to the deserving candidates. 

Addressing the gathering, the Prime Minister said that coming to Gandhigram has been a very inspirational experience for him and recalled that the institution was inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi. He remarked that   Mahatma Gandhi’s ideals have become extremely relevant in today’s day and age, be it ending conflicts or climate crises, and his ideas have answers to many challenges and burning issues that the world faces today. The Prime Minister drew everyone’s attention to Kashi Tamil Sangamam which is going to take place in Kashi soon and said that it will celebrate the bond between Kashi and Tamil Nadu. “This is Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat in action. This love and respect for each other is the basis of our unity”, he remarked. "Mahatma Gandhi wanted villages to become self-reliant and our vision of rural development draws inspiration from Gandhi Aatma Gaon Ki- Suvidha Sheher Ki," he added.   

Prime Minister  Shri Narendra Modiji  conferred honorary doctorate to music maestro Shri Ilaiyaraaja  & Shri Umayalpuram Sivaraman during the 36th Convocation Ceremony of Gandhigram Rural Institute in Tamil Nadu's Dindigul. During the event, Chief Minister MK Stalin and Governor RN Ravi were also present.  Music maestro Illayaraja recently became   an honorary member of Rajya Sabha under the Modi ji  government.  Shri Modi ji arrived in Tamil Nadu earlier in the day and was welcomed by CM Stalin at Madurai Airport. Upon his arrival, the chief minister gifted an English translation of Ponniyin Selvan novel to PM Modi.   

Umayalpuram Kasiviswanatha Sivaraman   is a recipient of the Padma Vibhushan as well as the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award.  UKS  parents were  P. Kasiviswanatha Iyer, a doctor, and his wife, Kamalambal. He learned the art of the Carnatic mridangam from four gurus over fifteen years: Arupathi Natesa Iyer, Tanjore Vaidyanatha Iyer, Palghat Mani Iyer and Kumbakonam Rangu Iyengar.  He also graduated from the University of Madras with a B.A. & B.L.  other than his accomplishments in the podium accompanying many artistes, he has been involved in some important technological innovations, notably the fibreglass and glass mridangams.   Earlier, wood used to be shaped into a mridangam, with a hollow, and left in a shady spot for three-four months till it became seasoned wood. With commercialisation, this was lost. Warping and other defects set in.  UKS  thought, earth gives a lot of material, why not use it. So he  approached Fibreglass Pilkington and made a resonator with fiberglass.  He  also made a fibreglass veena.  

Feeling happy that this great person has been honoured with a honorary doctorate.  

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
12th Nov 2022 

1 comment:

  1. Namaskaram.Feeling happy that this great person has been honoured with a honorary doctorate. 🙏